Mid-Ohio: Porsche preview

BACK-TO-BACK AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES RACES LEAVE NO TIME FOR REFLECTION; PORSCHES ENTER ACURA-SPONSORED EVENT IN OHIO AS FAVORITES, CLASS LEADERS ALTANTA - July 16 --Only days after fierce competition at Lime Rock Park, where the Porsche ...

BACK-TO-BACK AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES RACES LEAVE NO TIME FOR REFLECTION; PORSCHES ENTER ACURA-SPONSORED EVENT IN OHIO AS FAVORITES, CLASS LEADERS

ALTANTA - July 16 --Only days after fierce competition at Lime Rock Park, where the Porsche and Acuras did LMP2 battle and the Porsche and Ferraris tangled in GT2, the American Le Mans Series moves to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, for the Acura Sports Car Challenge.

The race, which will last two hours and 45 minutes, will take the green flag on Saturday, July 19, at 3:30 PM EDT, will be broadcast live on American Le Mans Radio, available at www.americanlemans.com, which also has live timing and scoring. The event will be telecast on a delayed basis on NBC-TV at noon EDT on Sunday, July 20. This is a recent change announced earlier in the week by NBC, which will also extend its usual two hour broadcast to two hours, 30 minutes.

"As Acura is sponsoring the race, and we know they will have a big crowd from their nearby factory in Ohio, we hope to turn the tables on them and score a win at Mid-Ohio," said Patrick Long, Porsche's only American factory driver, who led the Lime Rock race early in the event in the #6 Penske Porsche RS Spyder before the Brabham/Sharp Acura eventually won the event.

Four RS Spyders will again contest the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series, which runs in conjunction with the IndyCar Series. Sharing the cockpit of the #6 car are Sascha Maassen (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), with LMP2 points leader Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) manning the #7 RS Spyder. Penske Racing prepares both race cars. Maassen/Long lost track position at Lime Rock due to miscommunication on its pit stop/driver change, and Bernhard was passed by the winning Acura with two laps to go.

Still, Dumas/Bernhard maintained their LMP2 points lead and Porsche kept their manufacturers championship lead by finishing second. Their overall wins at Sebring and Salt Lake City, along with the class win at St. Petersburg, have put them in control of the drivers points, while the combined efforts of Penske Racing and Dyson Racing have kept Porsche ahead on the manufacturers side.

The Porsche-supported US customer team, Dyson Racing, also runs two RS Spyders: Chris Dyson (USA) and Guy Smith (Great Britain) with the #16 vehicle as well as Butch Leitzinger (USA) and Marino Franchitti (Great Britain) in #20. While celebrating Dyson Racing's 25th anniversary in professional racing last week at Lime Rock, the Dyson cars were running second and third deep into the race before a pair of unfortunate accidents caused lower finishes and a lot of work before this Saturday's event.

"I love racing in Mid-Ohio, it's my favorite circuit," says Sascha Maassen. "It's a very fast track with many corners, left and right, up and down - it's a real roller coaster."

Timo Bernhard, who, with Dumas, has won overall the past two years at Mid-Ohio in the RS Spyder, agrees: "This track is a true challenge, very demanding. It's a great track for drivers, not just because of the courage it requires but above all because it takes skill."

Dumas tested in Mid-Ohio with Patrick Long and is optimistic for the race: "We have always done well here. And there's no reason why this shouldn't be the case this year."

In the GT2 class for production-based sports cars, Porsche teams launch into the second half of the season leading the championship points. Multi-time ALMS champion Joerg Bergmeister and his teammate Wolf Henzler (both Germany) won not only in Sebring and Salt Lake City this season but also at Lime Rock last weekend with the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Lizard team drivers Johannes van Overbeek (USA) and Patrick Pilet (France), along with the third pairing of Seth Neiman (USA)/Lonnie Pechnik (USA) will round out that team's Porsche entries.

The GT2 pole-sitters from Lime Rock, the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Dirk Werner (Germany) and Richard Westbrook (Great Britain), is coming off its fine second-place finish last weekend. And the VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR returns to the series after a one-race hiatus, with Nicky Pastorelli and brother Francesco Pastorelli (The Netherlands) at the helm.

Starting the race at Lime Rock Park, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR car features a new four-liter engine with a further improved drivability. Here is a comparison between the 3.8-liter engine and new four liter powerplant. The horsepower remains the same.

-credit: porsche

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Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Butch Leitzinger , Sascha Maassen , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Romain Dumas , Lonnie Pechnik , Wolf Henzler , Nicky Pastorelli , Patrick Pilet , Richard Westbrook , Chris Dyson , Francesco Pastorelli
Teams Team Penske , Dyson Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports